When ‘Home Sweet Home’ Isn’t Yours

Renters face the anxiety of being displaced at any time–so how do couples and parents face the reality of changing markets?

If you rent, you know the year-after-year dread of either having to move or the fear that your home will be sold out from under you. While there are plenty of amazing landlords, there are just as many multi-family owners who have rentals as a means of profit rather than service.

And the prospect of a house seems inviting, but unless you’re inheriting a property or taking over a family stead, the pressure of purchasing can be worse on a couple and family than all other “that’s life” challenges.

So how does a family rent, save, and plan for normal family activities without the stress of the down-the-line fear that you’ll have to pack up everything again and scrape up first and last month’s rent as well as that security deposit?

Consider the long save

If your kids are in the local school system and you know you’re going to stay (and save for a property) locally, then your path will be different than the couple who can move towards the city or can take the train for the next few years until their ideal house comes true. Renting is a wise choice for those who don’t have the ability to save or aren’t able to purchase in the next five-to-ten years. And we all have that dilemma of large debt or lasting purchases that haunt us monthly. Eliminating college and credit card debt, executing a timeshare exit strategy, paying down your first car bill, and paying off a pricey wedding are all part of “growing up” in your 20s. The prospect (or reality) of being settled with kids in your 30s doesn’t often phase young renters because most of us assume that we’ll be wiser in the future!

A dollar here, a dollar there

Think of all the costs renters save by having utilities included as well not having to move if the monthly price is locked in for the next year (or rent-controlled). This can open up the idea of savings for a house to younger renters who might not be thinking of the long-term mortgage payments that can often intimidate those in a job market that may not be there next quarter. Young professionals, if savvy, might be able to put $100 to $400 aside each month, or even scrounge up a “security deposit” check for rent that they then simply put in their own bank on the anniversary of their first month in the apartment. The road to 20% down on a house as well as repairs and closing costs is lined with dollars here and pennies there.

Smarter vacations…if you take them

Just as there are plenty of ways to save for a house, there are at least ten times as many ways out there to take all of your money and make you forget about saving at all! Renters with kids deserve a vacation as any other working family or couple, but costs should deter the cautious. A reduced-cost or shortened vacation or a series of “staycation” days will be just as satisfying, and the kids will still have wonderful memories without you having to scrounge for rent the next month when you paid the same amount for three days of a hotel. As long as you’re saving somewhere and know that you can rent for the next five-to-ten years, you will be able to enjoy life to the fullest and save as well without the threat of losing a house because the mortgage wasn’t paid.

There are plenty of other creative ways to save for a new house or make payments to the one you’re in as a possible purchase–but you have to make a plan now for the future you and your family. It will be that “future” before you know it, and at that point you’ll have to make a decision. Either way, the “renter’s anxiety” doesn’t have to consume you and your landlord, and may even lead to calmer, more financially secure options for you and your family.

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